The Flying Greenhouse

“I’ve ordered a greenhouse,” my wife announced casually.

“What? We can’t afford a greenhouse. We’ve got Tom’s university bill to pay. Jessica’s rent. Ben’s holiday…”

“Not that sort of greenhouse. A plastic one. Thirty quid.”

My blood pressure returned to normal. Jane explained that we’d be able to grow melons. “Mangoes?” I muttered hopefully.

The greenhouse arrived a few days later. “When are you putting it up?” I asked.

“We’re doing at the weekend,” Jane replied.

‘Putting things up’ has never been my strong suit. An Ikea diagram can reduce me to tears. Constructing a see-through tent from ten yards of plastic sheeting, a few flexible rods and half a dozen tent pegs would test me to the limit.

In the event it was surprisingly easy – largely because Ben added his considerable expertise. Thank you, Duke of Edinburgh Award.

Things started to germinate. Melons seeds arrived in the post. Why stop at mangoes? Papayas, Guava… I cheerfully hummed a calypso.

And then the North Yorkshire weather intervened. So much for Spring. “Strong winds tonight and tomorrow,” the weatherman threatened.

“Do I think I should take it down?” Jane asked.

“No, no,” I replied confidently. “I fastened all the tent pegs down. Trust me.”

I glanced out of the window the next morning. My wife hadn’t bought a greenhouse. Or a tent. She’d bought a sail. The wretched thing was straining at its mooring ropes like a transatlantic yacht. Any moment now it would take off…

Reports are coming in of an unidentified object flying over North Yorkshire. Suggestions that it could be a greenhouse were dismissed as ‘ludicrous’ by the local police.

“Is it alright?” Jane asked as I handed her a cup of tea.

“Rock solid,” I said, praying the weatherman was wrong.

He wasn’t. The gusts continued all day. I got home from work and raced into the garden. The greenhouse had escaped. But fortunately, not very far. It was slumped drunkenly against the hedge. And mercifully unscathed. No rips, tears or gaping holes. Just let the wind drop and we’d be back in St. Lucia.

Spring returned two days later. The construction crew re-convened – to face a tangle of ropes, poles and plastic. But no tent pegs.

“Where are the rest of the tent pegs?”

“I don’t know. How would I know where the tent pegs are?”

“You said you fastened them down. They must still be in the ground. Look for them.”

I trudge miserably round the tent. Sorry, greenhouse. No tent pegs. “They must have been blown away.”

“You’re suggesting they were catapulted through the air?”

“Yes. Read your Sherlock Holmes. When you’ve ruled out everything else what remains must be the truth.”

My wife stopped short of pointing out that what remained was a useless husband. But only because salvation was walking down the garden – in the shape of a 16 year old boy. A 16 year old boy who was casually swinging a bag of tent pegs in his hand.

“Here,” he said, in a fine Clint Eastwood Few Dollars More drawl. “These should do it.”

“Where did you get these?”

“Poundland. When I was in town the other day. Bought a few man-things.”

Man-things? Dear God. First Tom pushes me out of the way and does the DIY. Now Ben was usurping my manhood with a quid’s worth of tent pegs.

My wife swooned over her youngest son. My contribution was entirely forgotten. I was entirely forgotten. Or maybe not. Jane smiled sweetly. “You may as well pick up the dog poo while you’re in the garden. I’m going in for a gin and tonic. And Ben can drink your beer…”

Thanks for reading this post. If you enjoyed it – and you’d like something light and moderately humorous to read – you can buy the ‘Best Dad I Can Be’ sample book with 27 of my favourite posts covering all the years I’ve been writing: it’s all of 99p on your Kindle. Alternatively the first chronological book, ‘Half Dad Half Fish’ which covers the time when the children were 9, 7 and 4 is available here


  1. Ha! Love this!
    You and my husband would get along wonderfully. He gets ’emotional’ when putting together Ikea furniture. He goes all red and says words that I didn’t know he knew.
    As for a greenhouse? We had one that was already here when we moved in. He reversed into it with the car and smashed it and didn’t know how to fix it. So to avoid any hassle, he sold it on eBay for 17 quid on the condition that whoever bought it had to take it apart themselves. The cowards way out!
    Great to find you. This blog is right up my street!

    • May as well ‘fess up although it’s going to knock thousands off the value of our house. The cupboard under our stairs is inhabited by a demon called ‘Mr F.’ Every time I go in there for my tool box (infrequent, but it happens) Mr F possesses me, so that I make JK Simmons in ‘Whiplash’ sound like a pacifist. Mercifully my sons are protected against said demon and can therefore do all the jobs I’m pathetic at. So this time next year they’ll be building the proper greenhouse, while I wimp backwards and forwards with the coffee…

  2. Your posts always make me laugh, but that was particularly funny. Man things? Does this mean in only 2 or 3 years I’ll have a boy who can do DIY? I’m living in hope now!

    • No question about, Sarah, both boys are far more practical than me. But then again, the dog is better at DIY than I am… My Dad was particularly good at that sort of thing – clearly the gene skipped a generation with me so yes, with luck you’ll soon have a son you can rely on to do jobs around the house. Mind you, getting them off the Xbox to actually do the jobs is another matter…

  3. Ooooh! I love garden stuff. My husband isn’t very handy he’s more the creative type, neither is our young teenage son who is more the I-only-watch-You-Tube-and-I-love-all-things-science type so it’s usually left to me to rally the troops. A few years ago, we wanted to re-paint our new home. I live in Berlin, let’s just say that our gay painter did a better job LOL!

    • Look, you simply could not be married to a less practical man than me. Shelves fitted on Good Friday: crashed to the floor on Easter Monday. And painting? Hand me the roller and a large blank wall. Anything else, chaos…

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